On this day: Space Shuttle Columbia took off

US shuttle Columbia lifts off on this day in 2003. It broke up on its return to earth, killing all seven crew on board. Picture: Getty
US shuttle Columbia lifts off on this day in 2003. It broke up on its return to earth, killing all seven crew on board. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 16 January

1547: Ivan the Terrible, first Russian to assume title of Tsar, was crowned.

1581: Penalties of high treason imposed by law in England on converts to Roman Catholicism.

1707: The Act of Union of the parliaments of England and Scotland was ratified.

1778: France recognised United States independence.

1909: The magnetic South Pole was found by Ernest Shackleton, who was knighted later the same year.

1920: Prohibition started in United States with the banning of manufacture, sale or involvement with alcohol.

1925: Leon Trotsky was dismissed from chairmanship of Russia’s Revolutionary Council.

1928: Thomas Hardy was buried beside Charles Dickens in Westminster Abbey. His heart was buried in the grave of his first wife, Emma, in the churchyard at Stinsford in his beloved Wessex.

1950: Listen With Mother started on radio with Ann Driver setting nursery rhymes to music. The catchphrase, “Are you sitting comfortably?” originated in this series.

1964: Thirteen Arab nations, meeting in Cairo, agreed to set up military command to strengthen Arab position on problems related to Israel.

1967: Closure announced of Boys’ Own Paper after 88 years of supplying adventure stories and “things for idle hands to do”.

1973: United States and North Vietnam declared ceasefire in Vietnam War in hopes of full peace pact.

1985: Dorchester Hotel in London bought by Sultan of Brunei.

1989: The home secretary, Douglas Hurd, ordered Court of Appeal to re-examine convictions of Guildford Four, for pub bombings in 1974.

1991: United States planes bombed Baghdad as Operation Desert Storm began the liberation of Kuwait at midnight.

1996: Gunmen seized a ferry bound for Russia with 255 people on board in the Turkish port of Trabzon and threatened to blow it up unless Russia let Chechen rebels go free.

2003: The Space Shuttle Columbia took off for its final mission. Columbia disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry.

2009: Singer Boy George, convicted of falsely imprisoning a male escort in his flat in London, was jailed for 15 months.


Kate Moss, supermodel, 40; Gavin Bryars, composer, 71; Wayne Daniel, cricketer, 58; Caroline Munro, actress, 64; Sade (Helen Folasade Adu), singer, 55; Keith Shackleton MBE, artist and naturalist, 91; Cliff Thorburn, snooker player, 66; Christine Janes (Christine Truman) MBE, tennis player and commentator, 73; Lady (Marina) Vaizey CBE, art critic, 76; Mickey Weir, Scottish footballer, 48; Norman Williamson, jockey, 45, John Carpenter, writer, actor, composer and film director, 66.


Births: 1853 Andre Michelin, tyre manufacturer; 1902 Eric Liddell, athlete; 1909 Ethel Merman, singer and actress; 1930 Spike Robinson, jazz saxophonist; 1979 Aaliyah (Aaliyah Haughton), singer and actress.

Deaths: 1794 Edward Gibbon, historian, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; 1942 Carole Lombard, screen goddess; 1967 Robert Van de Graaff, inventor of the particle accelerator; 1998 Peter Diamand, director, Edinburgh Festival; 2001 Auberon Waugh, writer; 2009 Sir John Mortimer CBE QC, barrister, playwright and author.